Toppling Tipp' next on Mayo's agenda

GAA: All Ireland SFC Semi-Final

Walking the line: James Horan would like to see his whole panel be able to travel to games not just the match-day 26. Photo: Sportsfile

Walking the line: James Horan would like to see his whole panel be able to travel to games not just the match-day 26. Photo: Sportsfile

“I don’t get shocked anymore in football, there is so much that can happen in Gaelic football particularly this year" was what Mayo manager James Horan said when asked was he surprised that Tipperary were the team to emerge as Munster champions this year.

He continued saying: "Our opponents are a really good team; they have shown that for a number of years now and have been strong since minor; a lot of that team have been together and they have some very good players and have their own way of playing and are very competitive that game I wasn’t at all surprised, to be honest.

"But as we have done all year we won’t be doing much on what others are doing, we have more than enough ourselves to be doing on how we are improving and our energy and getting ourselves better and we’ll have a crack at the game in a few weeks."

Conor Loftus said he also wasn't surprised that the Premier County saw off Cork to win last weekend: "I know a lot of the Tipp' lads. I would have played with them in college and we played them in 2016 and they have a lot of quality players and I wouldn't have them as a surprise, with the form in the championship they brought.”

But it has been all about self improvement rather than who they could be playing, since Mayo claimed the Connacht title a few weeks ago says the Crossmolina clubman.

"I suppose we are never looking that far ahead really, we were taking every game in Connacht first as it came and it will be same from now on. You are just taking training step-by-step as well, you are not looking to much ahead than that, you just want to keep your spot so that is where we are at."

The issue of only allowing the match day squad of 26 travel to games, leaving a number of players at home watching the game on television is something Horan said needs to be looked at saying: "Not allowing the panel to go to games, it is outrageous. I think the players, to a certain extent, have been taken for granted. I genuinely do.

"We have guys that have given a decade, some more. It may be their second, or last time going to Croke Park. For them to have trained all year, given absolutely everything and then not be allowed into a venue, it’s outrageous really. It's a killer for some guys."

That felling was echoed by Loftus who said this week: “Yah it is 100 per cent is something the GAA could look at and get the boys outside the 26 at the game in someway, shape or form.

"We are all travelling to the game separately in our cars anyway and there is plenty of room in a big stadium so there is something they could look at trying to get the boys in at

“You would miss them, you’re good mates with a lot of the boys in the squad so if you’re not in the 26, you would miss them there after a game."

Stephen Coen also expressed a similar feeling, with the All Ireland minor and u21 winning captain saying: "Over the years I experienced not being in the 26, been on subs instead. And it's a really gut wrenching feeling to find out you're not going to be on the day.

"Especially when you put in as much effort as anyone else has. So, I know for anyone that's on the 26. Everyone wants the lads that aren’t there to be there.

"And it's been that way all year; my whole career it's been like that so that's never changed and absolutely I think it's it's definitely be a thing that all the lads that cant be there should be there, I mean they put in as much effort as we have' and are committed to the whole thing since September and the start of the year, be honest."

Having to make the calls on who gets into the match day 26 has led to some tough conversations Horan has had to have with players this year.

"There are some conversations it is one of the tougher sides of the job, you have seen a lot of those players play over the past decade and how committed and straight and honest they are and we always say players are first to know, players know.

"It is funny if you lay out the criteria the guys in form and playing well regardless if they are just in or playing ten years. It doesn’t matter what age or whatever, whoever is in form plays and we have fairly clear criteria on that and it just makes it clear what it is for everyone and more straight forward. But still guys are going to very disappointed for sure but that is the nature of high level sport. "


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